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Nearly all councils in England plan to raise council tax

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
A hefty 95% of councils in England plan to raise council tax and 93% said they will need to increase charging in order to “make ends meet” this year.

The 2018 State of Local Government Finance survey revealed that “councils are on the edge” as two thirds will be forced to dip into their reserves.

The survey, conducted by the Local Government Information Unity (LGiU) and The Municipal Journal also found that 80% of councils fear for their financial sustainability.

It comes as Northamptonshire County Council recently took the decision to freeze all spending but councils fear this is “just the tip of the iceberg”.

While three quarters of councils are managing to maintain frontline services over the past year, there’s growing evidence that 2018/19 budgets will see reduced activity within parks and leisure (53% of councils), adult social care (40%), and youth centres (34%). Adult social care remains the top long-term pressure for councils, followed by housing and homelessness.

Local councils in England have already been given the authority to raise council tax by up to 5.99%, adding more than £100 to the average property’s bill in April.

Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGiU, said: “Councils are on the edge. They are for the most part holding services together (though a significant minority are not). But they can only do this by raising council tax, increasing charging and draining their reserves.

“The system is unsustainable and needs far more fundamental reform than is presently on offer. It’s simply not acceptable that we don’t know how local government will work post 2020. Councils are calling for assurances around funding for the next three years and for a fundamental redesign of the finance system. At present government is offering neither. That has to change.”

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